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China: Around The Nation

China’s latest internet celebrity is a rabbit with a taste for chilli

Chongqing pet proves city’s human residents aren’t the only ones who love spicy cuisine

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 3:32pm

Residents in China’s southwestern municipality of Chongqing have long been known for their love of chilli – a taste that now appears to have spread to its rabbit population.

One resident’s pet has become the country’s latest “internet celebrity” after he discovered its fondness for hot and spicy flavours.

The rabbit likes red and green peppers, but also enjoys dried chilli as an appetiser with every meal, according to the Chongqing Morning Post.

Huang Chao, 31, bought the rabbit in October and fed it with cabbages, carrots and apples in line with advice he found on the internet.

“It was as tiny as a man’s fist. I thought it was quite cute,” Huang said, according to a report carried by Xinhua news agency.

But he learnt of his rabbit’s tastes by accident after his wife dropped a bag of dried chilli on the floor last December. Before she could return to clean up the mess she found the rabbit eating it.

“We were worried it might get sick after eating such spicy things, but it was fine the next day,” he said.

Since then, Huang has regularly fed it with chilli and found that eating peppers seemed to improve its appetite for other foods.

“Every time it eats chilli, its appetite grows significantly,” says Huang. “It used to eat three carrots every day, but after eating chilli, it can easily eat two more carrots.”

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The rabbit appeared to have become addicted to spicy food, he said.

“Whether it’s dried chilli or fresh green peppers, it eats them all,” Huang said. “Now we feed it with chili at fixed times of the day.”

The pet has three to four dried chillis in the morning and evening, as well as five or six at noon, its owner said.

Some online commentators made fun of the rabbit’s strange tastes, with one saying its eyes were turning red because of the chilli.

By Tuesday evening, a post about the rabbit had attracted more than 1,000 comments on Weibo, according to the Xinhua report.

“Come on, the rabbit was born in Chongqing, that’s why it loves spicy food!” said one Weibo user.

Chongqing and its neighbouring Sichuan province are known for their spicy cuisine.

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Despite the animal’s unlikely passion for chilli, the habit does not seem to have done it any harm, and the once tiny bunny has grown into a huge rabbit, according to the news reports.

“It’s weird,” Huang said . “I always knew that Chongqing people loved their spicy food, but I did not know a rabbit could too.”

Wang Xiaoyou, a researcher from Chongqing Academy of Animal Science, told Chongqing Evening News that though it was rare for a rabbit to eat chilli at every meal, it was possible that those in rural areas ate a few peppers on occasion.

“Maybe the rabbit got used to chilli at an early age,” says Xiong Bibo, president of a Chongqing rabbit-breeding company.